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COVID-19: Lawrence General Hospital Responds To Crisis With New Policies

Lawrence General Hospital

COVID-19 (coronavirus) and its impact has changed life as we know it across the world. Locally, a state of emergency was declared in the Commonwealth on March 10, a national state of emergency was declared March 13, and most recently, the City of Boston declared a public health emergency on March 15.

“As we face the regional challenges of a global pandemic, we must do what is right and in the best interest of the community we serve,” says Deb Wilson, president and CEO of Lawrence General Hospital. “Delaying and flattening the pandemic curve is of critical importance, which is why hospitals, including Lawrence General, are having to shift focus in preparation for a potentially rapid and overwhelming uptick in critical patient care needs.”

Lawrence General’s temporary, precautionary and social distancing actions in response to COVID-19 will be revisited on an ongoing basis. Thank you for your patience. We are grateful for your understanding during this national emergency.

Under the state and federal COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency, and as part of Lawrence General Hospital’s precautionary social distancing efforts, the hospital is taking additional temporary actions including:

Visitor Policy: The hospital’s updated visitor policy was initially restricted to one person based on the state of emergency declared on March 10—However, effective March 17, we have now moved to a no visitor policy at Lawrence General Hospital. For adult patients, that means no visitors are allowed at this time. Labor and delivery, palliative care, and pediatric patients may have one adult visitor, or one adult visitor accompanying a child. Family and friends who wish to connect with a hospitalized patient are asked to call or video chat with the patient as one way to stay connected while limiting exposure. We understand these temporary changes may impose an inconvenience to some families and we appreciate your help with this social distancing measure.

Shuttle Service: As a precautionary social distancing measure, the hospital is temporarily suspending all shuttle services as of Monday, March 16. This includes shuttle rides for visitors, patients, and staff from the parking lots and to Marston and Canal Street.

Exterior tent site added for test sample collection: Lawrence General continues expanding COVID-19 test collection in preparation for likely surge of people in need of testing. Additional test kits are needed from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in order to collect an increasing number of test samples. Starting Tuesday, March 17 from 10 am to 6 pm, people pre-screened to be tested based on medical need will be tested at an exterior tent site located outside the ambulance bay at Lawrence General’s Emergency Center. This is a precautionary measure to maintain the health and safety of our patients and caregivers, limit the risk of potential exposure, and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If someone in the community is concerned, they have or were possibly exposed to COVID-19, the hospital recommends they first use one of Lawrence General’s two new community screening resources to determine their COVID-19 risk, possible need for testing, and recommendations for next steps. To get pre-screened for testing, please call the Lawrence General Hospital Community Screening Line at 978-946-8409.

The hospital’s online community screening tool can be found at: https://www.lawrencegeneral.org/about-us/covid-19.aspx.

Postponing Elective Procedures: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a directive that hospitals must cancel non-essential elective procedures. Given this directive, the COVID-19 national state of emergency, and based on additional guidance from the U.S. surgeon general and American College of Surgeons, Lawrence General Hospital is temporarily suspending elective surgery beginning Monday, March 16. We are reaching out to patients individually to postpone elective procedures and will continually evaluate the situation based on available information. This move is meant to help limit the risk of potential exposure, conserve vital safety equipment, and reduce the medical and support needs that patients regularly require after surgery, all of which helps us better prepare for a likely COVID-19 related surge in the coming days and weeks. As we temporarily reduce the number of elective surgeries, the hospital work load in response to COVID-19 will likely increase. We will continue expanding the critical work of screening and collecting COVID-19 swab tests as more test kits are made available from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Because the hospital’s decision represents a temporary shift in focus, the Surgical Services staff will remain on duty to assist with emergency planning activity.

Rescheduling Outpatient Services: Beginning Monday, March 16, all outpatient services that are non-urgent are being postponed. Staff is working with patients to reschedule their non-urgent appointments and procedures to about one month later than previously scheduled. The hospital will continue to share updates on this rapidly evolving situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this virus across the world, in the United States, and in our community. We are sincerely grateful to our exceptional staff that is making us proud during this extraordinary crisis.

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